COLFAX — AC/DC bumped on the loud speakers as a Colfax firefighter crouched atop a water tanker and hosed down the dirt track at the Jasper County Fair Grounds Saturday night. The evening’s emcee Mark Stevens of Newton took the microphone to get the crowd riled.
“Alright, these guys are ready to run wide open, I’ll tell you what,” he said as the sixth annual Colfax Demolition Derby got underway.
The derby, appropriately titled “Getting Smashed in Colfax,” began in 2007 and has since been the culmination of Colfax Mineral Springs Days. Event co-organizer Brad Magg said in its first year the derby committee was expecting around 500 spectators. Instead, traffic backed up on Highway 117 to Interstate 80 as nearly 2,000 derby fans packed the fairgrounds. As attendance has continually grown, the volunteer demolition derby committee responded by adding additional seating for this year’s event.
The official tally is not in, but Magg said Colfax Main Street collected tickets for more than 2,000 spectators Saturday. But Magg said more people were still arriving as volunteers ticket takers were relieved of duty. Organizers expected a near record-breaking 3,000 derby fans to pack the bleachers around the dirt track.
Driver and derby committee member Jeremy Rhone and wife Chrystal have been involved in planning the Colfax derby since 2009. After the second season, Rhone was impressed with the size and scope of the Colfax derby, and he wanted to help the event continue to thrive.
He drives #137 in the full-size division. For Rhone and many other drivers, the derby is a family affair. Each digit of his car number signifies a year in which one of his three children were born. The derby even has a power wheels division for 3- to 5- and 6- to 8-year-olds.
“It all happens so fast. It’s pure adrenaline. It’s like being on a roller coaster times 10,” Rhone said. “You have about 40 hours of work in a car, and you might get two minutes out of it, you might get two years out of it.”
Between heats, Colfax driver and derby committee member Jamie Jeter stood at the pit gates. His Chevy Lumina made it through to the main heat in the small car class. V-6 and V-8 engines tore across the dirt track in the background as he waited for his final match. His car “bent some metal” in the first round, but he said it was still running well.
“She’s ready for more,” Jeter said. “There’s a lot of tough cars here, but we’re going to go for broke.”
Nearly half the derby drivers in the Mineral Springs event are local, with more than 20 cars coming from the host town alone. But the invent is an invitational drawing competition from throughout central and southern Iowa. The derby has four divisions: full size, small car, mini van/truck and powderpuff.
Colfax drivers swept the leader board in both mini van/truck and powderpuff divisions Saturday night. First place in mini van/truck went to #7 Brent Magg, second place to #38DD James Lewis and third to #01 Brandon Cogley. In powderpuff first-time driver #4 Mackayla Alexander took the top spot and #314 Kari Wolder in second.
“I’ve been to a lot of derbies and this one is just huge compared to a lot of them,” Rhone said. “Something happened. I don’t know what these guys did, but something happened. It’s big. It’s neat.”
Contact Staff Writer Mike Mendenhall at firstname.lastname@example.org.